The Book Most Likely…

With the recent development of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series as a cable show on the Starz network, the subject of influential time travel and historical books has intrigued me, taking me back to the stories that helped shape my own love for historical fiction.

The two titles that instantly come to mind were written for “adult” readers, but back in the (cough) years of my youth, we didn’t have the wealth of YA-targeted historical fiction that we have today. Still, I discovered both of these books in my late teens and early twenties, and they had a profound effect on me as I began writing my first tale of historical romance (which I never submitted for publication, and trust me, that’s a good thing.)

Green Darknessgreendark
Anya Seton

While I have long been a fan of Elizabethan England, and am the proud owner of stacks of research books on the subject, I can point to a single book that spawned my fascination with Elizabethan fiction—and it’s an old one! Anya Seton’s Green Darkness.

Who would have thought a chance book found in my mother’s overflowing bookshelves would end up meaning so much to me? But this story of time travel(!) and mysticism(!) in Elizabethan England(!) was the perfect combination of romance and adventure, and completely immersed me into another time and place.


A Knight In Shining ArmorA-Knight-in-Shining-Armor
Jude Devereaux

Another story that I can hold up as extremely influential in my love of romance, history and time travel is the Jude Devereaux classic, A Knight in Shining Armor. Once again, the combination of time travel(!), Elizabethan England(!) and a completely swoon-worthy romance(!) absolutely transported me, and I found myself creating stories of my own . . . stories which eventually led me to become a published author.

Admittedly, I have yet to pen a time-travel book, but every time I find myself back in the world of the Maids of Honor, I feel like pieces of every romance and historical fiction book I’ve ever read weave their way into the narrative. There’s grand romance, mysticism, spies, political intrigue, over-the-top celebrations and feasts, combat, code-breaking, and royal plots aplenty. All the things I love as a reader.

Not every book is going to hit all readers the same way—what can send one reader swooning can leave another reader cold—so your mileage may vary on the books listed above. But think about what books made a difference to YOU—whether as a reader or a writer. Can you imagine your life without them?


A Celebration of Jennifer McGowan’s MAID OF DECEPTION

MaidofDeceptionYesterday saw the release of our own Jennifer McGowan’s Maid of Deception, the second installment of her Maids of Honor series, and we’re as proud as can be. In typical Corsets, Cutlasses, & Candlesticks style, we’re grilling Jenn with questions about her newest book, her characters, her writing methods, and her own special skills that would make her a fantastic Elizabethan spy. Let the celebrations begin!

First, a little intro from Jennifer McGowan herself:

Thanks so much for hosting me today to celebrate the launch of Maid of Deception! Though it seems like forever since the first book, it still is surprising that the launch is finally here!

Everyone asked such great questions, so I’ll dive right in!

From Katherine Longshore:
You have obviously spent a great deal of time and energy creating a cast of unique and carefully-depicted characters, which promises powerful stories for each of your maids-in-waiting. Does this make it easier to write the companion novels because you know them all so well, or more difficult because former narrators try to take over? And which scene in Maid of Deception was the most difficult to write?

Katherine, GREAT question! Writing the subsequent Maids of Honor books after Maid of Secrets has been easier, in the sense that the setting remains the same and the primary cast of characters remains the same. However, what has been harder is to ensure each Maid’s voice remains distinct and authentic. With Maid of Deception, this was fairly easy to do, because Beatrice has such a clearly defined personality. However, as I began work on Maid of Wonder, Sophia’s story, it took awhile for me to find her voice—she’s used to being behind the scenes, after all! The scene in Maid of Deception that was the most difficult to write was when Beatrice believes that she is really alone in the world, unwanted and unloved. For such a proud, bold young woman, this is a humbling realization.

From J. Anderson Coats:
How long do you typically research before beginning to draft? At what point do you feel comfortable beginning to draft? How does your research continue once you begin writing?

Jillian, researching these books seems to happen organically. There are some things that I learned a decade ago that I can finally put into a book, and other things I’m learning just because the current story requires it (like details of the Scottish rebellion!). I typically research as I write, though I spend about a month before drafting really pulling together the information I need. And then I research more during revisions. The post-draft research is generally highly specific, focusing on recorded events in history or any contemporary accounts that can help add life to the story.

MaidofSecrets_paperbackFrom Jessica Spotswood:
Each of the MAIDS books stars a different lady-in-waiting/spy. How was writing Beatrice different from writing Meg?

I love this question. 🙂 Meg was very much a fish-out-of-water, an independent young woman who was ready to take on any challenge with pluck, wit and a can-do attitude. Beatrice is more of a jaded insider, a grown-up Mean Girl who has seen and heard it all—the betrayals, the lies, the short-comings of everyone around her. So Beatrice has a more mature outlook, and a grimmer one, too. She’s naturally less-hopeful, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. That’s why, when she falls in love, it was really very special for me. 🙂

From: Sharon Biggs Waller
How do you keep the overall story arc flowing through all the books? And as a follow up, how do you keep track of all those details? Index cards? Notebooks?

Sharon, I confess—there are things with this series that I didn’t know when I started writing Meg’s book, that really came into focus for me during Beatrice’s book. And now, having just drafted Sophia’s book, I can see how the full series arc will conclude, and it’s a little overwhelming (though in a very cool way!). And, sadly, I don’t keep notes or index cards. I hear of people creating a “series Bible” and I go all glassy-eyed… that would be so wonderful! But I seem to be writing the books so quickly that I just have to have the actual stories as a resource. Fortunately, with everything in digital format, “search” has become my favorite tool in Word!

From Susan Hill Long:
Can you tell us how you came up with the names of the Maids? Do they just appear on the page for you, or do you struggle to find a name that particularly suits each Maid and her background and special skill?

Sue! This is the first time I’ve been asked this. I would say Meg Fellowes’s name came to me first and rather easily, as she was the heroine of Maid of Secrets and I needed a good, sturdy, practical name. Then there was Jane Morgan the assassin. Jane Morgan was the name of my very first heroine of my very first historical romance manuscript—a young woman who dressed as a knight to avenge her brother. 🙂 So it was fitting for her to play the role of the assassin for the Maids of Honor. Beatrice came next—I wanted a sophisticated and vaguely haughty sounding name, and it fit the bill! Anna, the genius of the Maids, I love because my older sister is named Ann, and she’s a hydrogeologist and one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. 🙂 And then there was lovely Sophia, the youngest and most ethereal of all the Maids, with her fledgling psychic abilities. Sophia just seemed right for her.

From Cat Winters:
Your Maids have their own special skills to help with their job protecting the queen. In Beatrice’s case, persuasion is the tool she uses to try to thwart a Scottish rebellion. If you were personally hired to protect Queen Elizabeth I, what would your special skill be?

Cat, what a great question! If I were hired to help protect the Queen, I would probably be charged with ferreting out secrets of her court and the foreign delegations. I have the kind of face/demeanor that seems to get people to open up and tell me things, and if I wasn’t a tavern keeper in Elizabethan England, well, I certainly could bend my abilities to serve the Queen!

Thank you for answering our questions, Jenn. Huzzah for the release of Maid of Deception!

Buy the book online:

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Find Jennifer McGowan online:


A Celebration of Jennifer McGowan’s A THIEF BEFORE CHRISTMAS

ThiefBeforeChristmasThis holiday season we’re celebrating the release of Jennifer McGowan’s newest release, A Thief Before Christmas, a Maids of Honor novella.

The synopsis:

Who better to steal a heart for Christmas than a thief? In this e-short story and prequel to Maid of Secrets, an actress plays matchmaker for two young lovers.

It’s December 1558 in England and a new Queen is about to be crowned, but thief and amateur actress Meg Fellowes and her Golden Rose acting troupe are focused on survival, not politics. In between performances of their newest play in the bustling town of Leeds, the troupe is picking the pockets of rich lords and ladies in preparation for their own ragtag Christmas.

At the end of each long day’s haul, the troupe’s spoils are divided up, with the useless bits cast aside. But on this particularly cold winter’s night, Meg notices two curious, sealed letters in the discard pile. Together with her roguish troupe master, Meg opens them and discovers they are love letters—never sent—between a merchant’s son and a landowner’s daughter, who do not know of their shared affection.

Meg resolves to give the two would-be sweethearts their most hoped-for Christmas wish by returning the letters to the pockets of the intended recipients, not the senders. Can Meg master the role of matchmaker in time for Christmas, or will the young lovers be forced to spend another holiday—and perhaps the rest of their lives—apart?

In classic Corsets, Cutlasses, and Candlesticks tradition, we’re toasting Jennifer’s new book with a group interview…

Jennifer McGowan

Jennifer McGowan

Sue: Jenn, do you have a favorite holiday tradition, book-wise, at your house? We drag out a basket of books like Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, and hey, presto! — the holiday mood is set.

Sue, what a great question! When it comes to works of fiction, the Christmas story that never EVER fails to hit me right in the heart is a fable called “The Christmas Apple.” Because the Internet is awesome, I found a version of the fable online: Just reading it takes me all the way back to the first Christmas I read the tale. Stories are an amazing thing.

Laura: We often see books with a sequel. What was the process like for penning a prequel?

Laura, I thought writing a prequel would be easier—after all, I knew what was going to happen next! But in many ways it proved to be an interesting challenge. I wanted it to be a romantic story (because that’s how I roll), but Meg meets her romantic match in MAID OF SECRETS, so she couldn’t fall in love a mere months earlier. In addition, many of the characters appear in both books—but for those meeting them for the first time in THIEF, I needed to stay consistent without revealing too much. Finally, I wanted to “reward” readers who took the time to read THIEF even if they’d already read MAID… so I included little “easter eggs” of details that will figure into future books or will round out readers’ knowledge of key characters. I even dropped a hint that won’t play out until book 5 of the Maids of Honor series. We’ll see how well I pulled that off!

MaidofSecrets_paperbackJess: How was writing a novella different from writing a full-length novel?

Jess, it was easier in that it was shorter—so there was only one main plot line to follow. However, it was more difficult in that I had to tell a complete story with only a handful of words compared to MAID OF SECRETS, which was over 100,000 words. It was rather like cooking a full meal to serve in a thimble! But I enjoyed the process tremendously, and if all goes well, I will do more of these novellas to share additional adventures of the Maids of Honor between books.

Katy: So many Tudor novels are set in London or at court, how was it recreating Elizabethan Leeds?

Katy, as one Tudor fan to another, I can tell you it was fascinating! I knew I wanted to set A THIEF BEFORE CHRISTMAS in a bustling market town, not too far away from London (but far enough), and Leeds came up rather quickly as a possibility. I then spent way too much time researching the woolen market and guild halls, even the local church—all minor points in the story, but I wanted to try to be as factually correct as possible. Then I added the Christmas details, including the words of a famous carol of the time, and used it all as a backdrop to a story that would be relevant to Meg’s future adventures. I would never claim to be an expert on Leeds, but I hope to visit it one day to retrace Meg’s steps as she raced through town (a path that I based on a rough medieval map)!

Jillian: Tell us about one darling (a line, a scene) you had to cut from A THIEF BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

Jillian, it seems the more I develop as a writer, the more I find myself cutting. In THIEF, I had a moderately comic business in a courtyard involving a bombastic noblewoman in a furious encounter with a horse. The scene is still there, but finding words to describe the woman that were actually period-accurate proved more and more difficult as I sought to use increasingly colorful descriptions. My long-suffering copy editor at Simon & Schuster forced me to stay true to the time period – but I believe the scene rings more authentic due to her tireless efforts.

From Sharon: How did the idea for the novella come about?

Sharon, with the extremely long time between books in the Maids of Honor series, and knowing that not every reader would be willing to take a risk on such a non-standard time period for an entire novel, I wanted to write a shorter tale to highlight the adventures of the main players in MAID OF SECRETS. I also had never written a novella—or a Christmas story—and the idea intrigued me.

Speaking of Christmas, I’ll be setting a future Maids of Honor book at Christmastime, and the traditions of the time period will be on full display then—as well as the food! Elizabethans definitely liked their Christmas sweets.

From Cat: Which of your A THIEF BEFORE CHRISTMAS characters would you most like to invite to your own holiday table? Which would you least want to have in your home?

Cat, I love this question, too! Quite definitely, I would want to invite Meg and Master James… as long as I counted the silver before they arrived. 😉 I enjoy their relationship so much, especially as Meg continues to discover who she is as a person, and Master James reveals a bit more of his character with each scene I write about him. As to the person I’d least like to invite, I would have to go with the shifty-eyed jewel seller, Theodore Minsk. He’s a slippery character who has known Master James a long time, and readers may see him again in a future Maids book.

Thank you so much for allowing me to share my release of A THIEF BEFORE CHRISTMAS! It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate with my fellow history lovers.

Order A Thief Before Christmas in time for the holidays:

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Visit Jennifer McGowan online:

Why I fired my writing process (and why you might, too)

“Real artists ship.” — Steve Jobs

I’ve been writing for a long time–both as an aspiring (and now debut) author, and as a marketing communications expert. I’ve written fiction and non fiction, and all manner of business copy from websites to speeches to training manuals to press releases… you name it, I’ve probably put it on paper.

donewayFor most of my writing career, writing fiction was a distinctly different process from writing for business. Writing fiction was an art, a craft; a mystical, magical foray into the arcane world of plot and setting, dialog and characterization. Writing for business, on the other hand, was all about clarity, persuasiveness, brevity, and calls to action. You couldn’t set a deadline on art, but when it came to business, it was all deadlines, all the time. I even made up fake deadlines in my work with both clients and employers, just because I really didn’t consider a job “real” unless it had a deliverable date.

Writing historical fiction was an even weightier undertaking. There was so much research to be done! There was always another article to find, date to double check, political treatise to decipher. Whereas in business, if you had time to do research at all, it was expected you somehow manufactured that time in another dimension, where you could go and read to your heart’s content without actually taking any extra hours to get the job done. You had to get the best product together in a timely and effective manner, and then get it out the door.

After ten years, countless award wins and several manuscripts under my belt, I still hadn’t sold my first book. I’d worked and reworked a couple of them, polishing them to utter perfection–but none of them quite made the grade.

In that same time period, however, I’d written literally hundreds of thousands of words to sell products and promote people and ideas. I’d moved up the corporate ladder in multiple businesses, quit and joined a successful start-up, risen to the level of vice president of a multi-national company, and had finally been able to leave corporate altogether and become a freelancer.

So there I was, in the Fall of 2010. After a flash of inspiration, I’d rewritten a historical novel almost entirely in the space of a few months, then set out to prepare for the lonnnng revision process to make it perfect, prior to sending it out.

And it hit me.

I wasn’t conducting myself as a professional writer, artist, or anything else. I was being decidedly UNprofessional, in fact. I wasn’t getting my work out on a timely basis. I was editing the life out of it. I was missing out on pitching and querying calls because “I needed to make it perfect.”

And I wasn’t selling.

At that point, I developed a new writing motto: Professional, not Perfect. I would do everything I could do (which was a lot… I can be a workaholic when need be) to make the manuscript the best it could possibly be within a reasonable amount of time… and then I would send it out. I would get professional feedback from agents on my marketing hook (my query) and my product (my book), I would see if I was differentiated enough from my competition, and I would take that feedback and make my story better. I would not sit in my office at my computer and polish an unpublishable manuscript until it gleamed. I would ship my work.

So I did.

In a little over six weeks from that decisioning point, I sent my manuscript out. Agents responded, and I eventually chose an amazing professional partner and advocate. I revised the manuscript again, and we sent it out on submission. About six weeks after that, I was blessed to receive an offer from a publishing house. Then another. And finally, I was delighted to be able to say my book was going to be published by Simon & Schuster.

From the decision point to final sale? Approximately six months.

Time I’d spent writing up to that point, off an on, here and there, learning and developing but not pushing my fiction career like I was my business career? Approximately ten years.

So, yeah. I fired my writing process.

And opened up a world of opportunities.

What about you? What writing practices did you used to have that no longer fit you now?


MaidofSecretsJennifer McGowan’s Maid of Secrets debuts May 7, 2013, from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. She is currently ready to ship book 2 in the series, Maid of Deception.

You can visit her online at, on facebook, or via Twitter at @Jenn_McGowan

Spring 2013 YA and MG Historical Fiction Preview

Here are the YA and middle-grade historical fiction reads hitting shelves from April through June 2013. Don’t see your favorite? Comment below to let us know and we’ll add it to the list!

keyandflameTHE KEY AND THE FLAME, by Claire Caterer
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pub Date:  April 1, 2013

Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard wants nothing more than to seek adventure outside of her humdrum American life.

She gets her chance at last when her family travels to England and Holly receives an unusual gift: an iron key that unlocks a passage to the dangerous kingdom of Anglielle, where magic is outlawed and those who practice magic are hunted.

When her friend Everett and brother Ben are captured by Anglielle’s ruthless king, Holly must rescue them. But that means finding—and using—the magic within herself and learning which magical allies she can trust.

The Key & the Flame is the first in a brand-new fantasy adventure series for ages 8 and up.

darktriumphDARK TRIUMPH, by Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Pub Date:  April 2, 2013

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

blackbirdIN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, by Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pub Date:  April 2, 2013

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion.

Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts.

During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

flameTHE FLAME IN THE MIST, by Kit Grindstaff
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub Date: April 9, 2013

Set in an imagined past, this dark fantasy-adventure is for fans of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. Features  Jemma, a fiery-headed heroine held captive in Agromond Castle, yet destined to save mist-shrouded Anglavia.

Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma’s past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia.

chantressCHANTRESS, by Amy Butler Greenfield
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pub Date:  May 7, 2013

Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.

“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness. When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England. Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion…

Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.

maidofsecretsMAID OF SECRETS, by Jennifer McGowan
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pub Date:  May 7, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Meg Fellowes is a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of female spies in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. There she must solve a murder, save the Crown, and resist the one thing that will become her greatest freedom–and her deadliest peril.

For Meg and her fellow spies are not alone in their pursuit of the murderer who stalks Windsor Castle.

A young, mysterious Spanish courtier, Count Rafe de Martine, appears at every turn in the dark and scandal-filled corridors of the Queen’s summer palace.

And though secrets and danger are Meg’s stock-in-trade, she’s never bargained on falling in love…

giltGILT, by Kathering Longshore (paperback release)
Publisher: Viking
Pub Date:  May 7, 2013

In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free–and love comes at the highest price of all.

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties.

No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men–the object of her affection and the object of her desire.

But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

BeautifulandcursedTHE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED, by Page Morgan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: May 14

Fans of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series and Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy will devour The Beautiful and the Cursed, a wholly original interpretation of gargoyle lore.

It was bizarre and inexplicable, and after it happened, Ingrid Waverly was forced to leave her life in London behind. She had to trade a world full of fancy dresses and society events for exile in gothic Paris with her mother and her younger sister, Gabby. In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and disturbingly, the house rented by Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, isn’t a house at all. It’s an abbey. A creepy, old abbey with a roof lined in stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures. And to top it all off, Grayson is missing. Yet no one seems to be concerned about Grayson’s whereabouts save for Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant who has some deep and dark secrets of his own.

There’s one secret about the city that even Luc can’t keep hidden, though: there’s a murderer on the loose. And every day that Grayson is missing means there’s less chance he’s still alive. Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows that he’s in grave danger, and that it’s up to her and Gabby to find him before all hope is lost. And yet the path to him is more dangerous than she could ever imagine.

everydayEVERY DAY AFTER, by Laura Golden
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub Date:  June 11, 2013

Trouble has rained down on Lizzie Hawkins. Her daddy has deserted the family, her mama is silent with sadness, and the bank is after their house.

Daddy always said Lizzie was born to succeed, but right now she can’t even hold on to her top grades or her best friend, Ben. Bratty newcomer Erin Sawyer has weaseled both away from Lizzie, but Erin won’t be satisfied until Lizzie is out of her hair for good, packed off straight to the nearest orphanage. Still, Lizzie refuses to lose what’s left of her family. With the bank deadline fast approaching, Erin causing strife at every turn, and Mama and Ben slipping away from her, Lizzie finds comfort writing in her journal and looking at Daddy’s face in the heirloom locket he left her. She’s keeping her head high and holding onto hope that Daddy returns on her twelfth birthday. Still, she can’t help wondering: Why did Daddy have to leave? And can I save us if he doesn’t come home?

Times may be tough in Bittersweet, Alabama, but the unsinkable Lizzie Hawkins will inspire readers with her resilience and determination.

belleBELLE EPOQUE by Elizabeth Ross
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pub Date:  June 11, 2013

When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new “friend” is the hired help, and Maude’s very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

bornofillusionBORN OF ILLUSION by Teri Brown
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pub Date:  June 11, 2013

Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna.

The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?

danceDANCE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pub Date:  June 11, 2013

Bethany Griffin continues the journey of Araby Worth in Dance of the Red Death—the sequel to her teen novel Masque of the Red Death.

In Dance of the Red Death, Araby’s world is in shambles—betrayal, death, disease, and evil forces surround her. She has no one to trust. But she finds herself and discovers that she will fight for the people she loves, and for her city. Her revenge will take place at the menacing masked ball, though it could destroy her and everyone she loves…or it could turn her into a hero.

With a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, Bethany Griffin concludes her tragic and mysterious Red Death series with a heroine that young adult readers will never forget.

tarnishTARNISH by Katherine Longshore
Publisher: Viking
Pub Date:  June 18, 2013

Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court–and to convince the whole court they’re lovers–she accepts.

Before long, Anne’s popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice–but she also wants love.

What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart’s desire and the chance to make history.

starcursedSTAR CURSED by Jessica Spotswood
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pub Date:  June 18, 2013

With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate’s friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn’t want to be a weapon, and she doesn’t want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood’s schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she’ll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess’s quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

WrittenStoneWRITTEN IN STONE by Rosanne Parry
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pub Date:  June 25, 2013

Rosanne Parry author of Heart of a Shepherd, shines a light on Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s, a time of critical cultural upheaval.

Pearl has always dreamed of hunting whales, just like her father. Of taking to the sea in their eight-man canoe, standing at the prow with a harpoon, and waiting for a whale to lift its barnacle-speckled head as it offers its life for the life of the tribe. But now that can never be.

Pearl’s father was lost on the last hunt, and the whales hide from the great steam-powered ships carrying harpoon cannons, which harvest not one but dozens of whales from the ocean. With the whales gone, Pearl’s people, the Makah, struggle to survive as Pearl searches for ways to preserve their stories and skills.


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MaidofSecretsJennifer McGowan’s Maid of Secrets debuts May 7, 2013, from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. She is currently at work on book 2 in the series, Maid of Deception.

You can visit her online at, on facebook, or via Twitter at @Jenn_McGowan